In an ominous sign for the Christmas shopping season, UK retail sales growth decelerated to its lowest rate in two years during November, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Sales edged up 4.9% overall compared with November 2001, and just 2% at stores open over twelve months. For the three months to November, year-on-year sales growth stood at 3.4%, down from the 4% in the three months to October.

The BRC said the disappointing November results partly reflect constant wet weather and comparison with a strong November 2001, when cuts in interest rates sparked a shopping spree.

However, it warned rates may need to be reduced again if sales stay weak over Christmas.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff